Towleroad reports that Coca-Cola has apologized for the social media campaign created by its South African division. When users attempted to add the word “gay” to their image of a Coke can, the response was “Oops, let’s pretend you didn’t just type that.” Here is Coke’s statement:
“We are aware that the Share a Coke promotion we are running in South Africa has generated an unintended outcome. We apologise for any offence caused. The Share a Coke programme was created to allow consumers to take the iconic “Coca-Cola” script and replace it with their name on the can. In South Africa, the digital version of the Share a Coke promotion did not properly limit the customisation to individuals’ names. We’ve taken down the site and are in the process of revising the digital tool immediately…As one of the world’s most inclusive brands, we value and celebrate diversity. We have long been a strong supporter of the LGBT community and have advocated for inclusion, equality and diversity through both our policies and practices. Again we apologise for any offense this has caused.”
Thanks to activist and #CheersToSochi campaign hijacker Scott Wooledge, Queer Nation and many LGBT bloggers, mockeries of the “Share A Coke” campaign have dominated Twitter and Facebook in recent days.
NOTE: Coca-Cola has a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign and (largely through their Diet Coke brand) the company has sponsored Pride events and advertised in gay media since 2004. LGBT employees of Coca-Cola and their spouses/partners enjoy every protection and benefit that they should. It must, therefore, be very frustrating for a company that had so far done all the right things to be faced with an avalanche of criticism over the Sochi Olympics. Case in point, yesterday’s headline from Britain’s Daily Mail tabloid.
UPDATE: Queer Nation has reacted to today’s apology.